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How do you bring up things that don't want to be heard?!?

(28 Posts)
cinnamongreyhound Wed 24-May-06 10:16:33

We have dss usually 1 evening in the week and alternate weekends I wanted to talk to his teacher about reading and did so successfully. She told us that he is struggling with writing alphabet and his key words and reading (he is 4 and in reception). She would therefore like us to practise things with him at home and has given us some worksheets to help. She also mentioned that it's a team effort and she would like us to talk to his mum (suggesting that she hasn't done so) and here is our dilemma. It is a difficult situation to describe to the teacher and we do not want to bad mouth his mother but we know that mentioning that we have spoken to the teacher will cause a lot of problems. She is also completely unable to take critisism and will take it as a personal insult that her son is struggling and not that he needs help to improve and she can help by doing extra at home. Things are begining to settle down between dp and his ex so we don't want another inflammatory situation but this is dss's education and with the little time we see him we feel that it won't be as beneficial as it could be. Any ideas?

Surfermum Wed 24-May-06 11:29:24

The short answer is we don't! We tend to just avoid anything that is going to cause an argument, because dh's x is of the opinion that she will discuss everything with dsd and we want to protect her from that. There are times when he just has to though.

In this case I think you should explain to the teacher that it just isn't possible for you to discuss this with her mum and that she needs to. Dsd's schools have always been really understanding and dh hasn't ever bad mouthed his x, just said that things were difficult between them.

Difficult isn't it?

tenalady Wed 24-May-06 11:34:56

ah yes, frustrating isnt it. I found the school seems to be unsypathetic as they dont want to be tippy toeing around everyones feelings. We tried on many ocassions and because it caused arguments we just backed off. Sorry but mummy knows best approach is often favoured over father in our experience.

Caligula Wed 24-May-06 11:50:28

Sorry but I think you're way OTT here. This child is 4 years old and in reception, there is no problem if he can't read yet. If I were his mother, I'd see your intervention as really interfering, muscling in on my DS's education when there is no problem and trying to put pressure on a reception age child when no pressure is necessary. I would have told my DS's teacher to take a running jump if she had told me there was a problem with his reading at the age of 4 in reception class, but none of my DS's teachers would ever have been so stupid as to do so. If he doesn't really click with reading until he is 6 or 7, that really isn't a problem. I don't think worksheets is appropriate at the age of 4. My DS has just started to get worksheets this year, in Year 2 (so 6 and 7 year olds). It just seems way OTT to me and if you pursue this, you will be picking a very unnecessary fight which will cause a lot of unnecessary extra ill-feeling where there is probably enough already - hold back, relax about your DSS's reading, just keep reading him stories and helping him enjoy books and associate them with fun and relaxation, not work, and he'll learn to read OK. My DS has only just got to grips with it in the last 4 months or so, and he'll be 7 in a couple of weeks. And he's in a high achieving school with brilliant results, and no-one has ever seen it as a problem. Relax!

alligator Wed 24-May-06 11:52:17

We have given up on this tbh as all we ever get is a rant on 'I have him everyday and you dont know what its like, you are just a part time dad etc' sooooooo if you find a way let me know cos we aint in 12 years of trying. We do what we can when dss is with us and try to encourage him as best we can.

Caligula Wed 24-May-06 11:52:21

btw, just want to say I can understand that you're probably a bit hyper about wanting to do the best for your dss which might make you go ott occasionally - just don't feel you have to try too hard because that can create its own problems.


Surfermum Wed 24-May-06 12:32:26

Taking Caligula's point about interfering, I must say I don't ever get involved in speaking to teachers, doctors, etc, that is for dh and/or dsd's mum to do. The only time I've spoken to the school was when she was going to a new one and I was going out to buy her uniform and needed to know what colours, etc. I know you're doing all this with the best of intentions but be careful that you don't tread on BM's toes .

FruitAndNutcase Wed 24-May-06 12:37:08

I totally agree Surfermum, I always have my stepchildren's best interests at heart, but when it comes to things like schooling etc. I do believe that should be left to the parents. I did go to DSS's parents evening with DP last year, but that was only because BM didn't want to go and DP and DSS wanted me to go. However, I only listened in interest and did not give any input to the teachers.

alligator Wed 24-May-06 12:41:45

Sorry didnt spot the bit about him being 4. I'm sure he'll be fine with reading and its def a better idea to relax nad just read plenty of books with him. He will get the hang of it over time.

Aimsmum Wed 24-May-06 12:49:48

Message withdrawn

cinnamongreyhound Wed 24-May-06 12:50:47

We spoke to the teacher together not jsut me. When I say reading books we are talking a line on each page which includes about 4 words such as look at the .... and then the picture will tell him the ... such as train then plane. They are 6 page books, and he's struggling with this along with not knowing his alphabet and a few other things. My initial conversation with her was just how we go about reading these books with him as we have had no direction. She then brought up the rest and said that he will have problems in year one anyway so she would like us at home to do anything we can to help. Just practice writing the letters and relating them to the sounds. The worksheets are simply the alphabet and 45 key words with a few games based on each. She obviously feels that after almost 1 year at school he should know the shoudl know the alphabet. We worry that if he's struggling he won't enjoy school and this presents a whole other problem.

I appreciate your opinion but I would like to be involved in his schooling as my stepdad was with mine and even if my dp doesn't mention that I was with him when he spoke to the teacher this will still cause problems.

cinnamongreyhound Wed 24-May-06 12:53:23

We didn't go behind her back at all I think that my dp has ever right to speak to his sons teacher without the permission of his ex. It was something that came up and we wanted to discuss it, we don't get a lot of information from the school filtered through to us and if he has homework (such as a very short simple reading book) when he stays with us we want to go about the right way.

suejonez Wed 24-May-06 12:56:40

I think you have to get the teacher to talk to her if she considers it important. Otherwise I'd do the exercises you've been given with him when you have him and leave his mum to sort him out when he's at hoime with her, whichever way she wants to. I don't see a way of talking to her about it without her thinking you are interfering.

littlerach Wed 24-May-06 12:57:44

Perhaps you could ask the teacher to have a word with mum when she next sees her.

We have an agreement with the school that dss's reports etc are sent to us so that we can look at them as well as his mum. Dsd is at secondary, so they are not as keen to do this now.

Perhaps you and dp don't know how it is, in comparison to his mum, but it is nice that you are ytaking an interest in his life.

Surfermum Wed 24-May-06 13:06:11

Ok, Cinnamon - from your OP it just sounded like it was you on your own.

Aimsmum, you're right, the parent with care will get a fuller picture of a child than the non resident parent, but in our case BM won't even discuss things with dh and that's what I don't think is on. She's said in the past "what happens when dsd is with me is nothing to do with you". But her education, health and wellbeing are dh's concern wherever she is and it should be possible for them to discuss their child sensibly. I read so much on here about fathers who just leave and show little or no interest in their children and it makes me cross that dh is wanting to play as full a role in his daughter's life as he can but is prevented from doing so.

otto Wed 24-May-06 13:20:27

I tend to agree with Caligula. I'm a stepmum and when these situations arise in our family, dp talks to his ex about them and vice versa and then they deal with it together. I can offer support where necessary and have been to meetings with the school about things that have affected all of us, but I don't think it's up to me to deal with school directly. I can see why you have done this and you're obviously a caring person, but I think you need to consider a different approach in future.

alligator Wed 24-May-06 13:26:14

Am doing a really bad job of expressing myself today. Didnt mean that to sound like we think we know better than dss's mum. What I meant was if dp asked (and just asked not having a go or anything) about homework or reading she'd have a go at him cos I think she felt it was an implied critisism when in fact he just wanted to know how things were and if there was anything he could do to help. Sorry Aimsmum (I'll go bugger off and yell at my boss instead. Thatd be a better thing to do)

FruitAndNutcase Wed 24-May-06 13:27:24

Very wise words Surfermum. I think that is the real problem, every situation is different. For example, like Surfermum, our BM does not communicate with DP. He is totally unaware of how things are with the children at school etc. He only relies on what the children tell him when asked. The only reason we were asked (via email) to go to DSS parents evening was because she was going out on the p**s (her words not ours) and didn't want to cancel it! (This meant us making a nearly 800 mile round trip to attend, but it in my opinion is well worth it, if DP is given information on how his children are doing at school). We do not get sent reports or even get the opportunity to buy school photos anymore.

To echo what Surfermum said, it is very sad that some fathers who do want to be there to support their children and want to be kept informed of the important aspects of their childhood are sometimes (not all cases I know) not allowed to be involved.

We have tried (from ours and BM's solicitors advice) to get DP "parental responsibility" (as they were not married), but BM is refusing to do this because she seems to think, (despite being told otherwise by her solicitor), that it will mean DP will get full custody of the children and she will have no input in their life!!!! This is so silly, DP just would like an active part in his children's life and to be informed of their school progress, told if they are ill etc. afterall they do live nearly 200 miles away from us so it is not possible to just "pop in" and see how they are.

We do however, accept that the children live with their mum and she has the majority of input into their lives and DP tries not to interfere in that unless truly neccessary.

Caligula Wed 24-May-06 13:48:34

Hmm, you wanting to be involved with his schooling is a real intrusion into her life, imo. If my DH had left me for another woman and she then decided she was going to have an input into my children's education (or health or anything) I honestly think I would want to kill her. People who say prison works are probably right, I'm sure there'd be a lot more murders without it.

Your stepfather may have been highly involved with your education because your father wasn't; I don't know. But your SS doesn't have a mother who isn't involved, he has a mother with care and control, and that's a very different matter. At some stage, if you and DP stay the course and you become a permanent part of your DSS's life, then of course you will have a right to have an opinion about things like his education. But you'll never have decision-making abilities (unless his mother dies of course), and if you accept that now, you really will save yourself an awful lot of bother. At this stage of the relationship, I think less is more. Building up a position in a family is a very slow, gradual process and can be put back years by mistakes in the early stages. Softly softly is usually a much better approach and gets people more, than going in all guns blazing declaring what you want. Because of course, what you want and what DSS's mother wants, are in direct conflict; so if you want to get what you want, avoiding conflict, you have to zig zag rather than go direct.

Fruitandnut - can't you just get the reports CC'ed to you? Or do the school not do that without PR? Would the BM give permission for that or is she too mental?

FruitAndNutcase Wed 24-May-06 14:00:20

Caligula, not sure who's post your last comment was aimed at, but not all stepmums on here were the cause of the bio mum and dad's break up. Me myself, only got with DP 4 years after they split up and they have been seperated for nearly 8 years. However, I can understand how hard it must be for any mum to see their child with a stepmother, let alone if DP/DH had left them for said stepmother. Im sure it would upset me terribly if I were in that situation.

With regards to your comment about PR, no the school wont send them to us, we have asked, and yes she is a bit too mental. We have tried to get PR on several occasions and her own solicitor even gave up on her in the end and refused to see her any more as she is totally unreasonable. As I said, for some reason, she wont consider it as she is adamant it will mean that DP will get custody of the children. It is stupid, as even if DP was entitled to full custody we wouldnt even consider it unless the children were in danger or mistreated as they are very settled with their mum and he wouldn't want to uproot them and cause them distress.

cinnamongreyhound Wed 24-May-06 14:01:03

Thank you all for your input. The problem is with communication if they had a good realtionship they could discuss things and then one or both go to see the school to speak to the teacher. If the teacher had brought this up with dp ex I feel that she would have taken it as a personal critisism anyway. Ideally we would like to have dss 1/2 of the time but she will not allow this so we do as much as we can. I do say we here because I feel that when he is with us I am caring for him as much as his father is. I am not his mother nor am I trying to be but I do feel that as I am here and so close to everything, my opinion and help can but useful. I am often in the background stay there quietly out of respect for bm. Dp has asked for things to be sent to him seperatly from school but sadly this has not happened. I am not a mum (hope to be one day) but do feel that schools play a vital role in bringing up children and that it's good to work together not against each other, hence the reason for the original question about the book.

Some of the comments I have received are the sort of thing that we were expecting from bm so I feel that we will probably have to leave it at that and let the teacher speak to bm if she feels necessary and not mention this to her I just think it's sad that we (or atleast dp and ex) cannot discuss it and work together.

Caligula Wed 24-May-06 14:05:57

F&N, I'm well aware of that, but in this case I think it is the case (apologies if I've got that wrong Cinnamon) and so will of course add to the tension that's already there.

FruitAndNutcase Wed 24-May-06 14:14:45

Sorry Caligula, thought the comment was meant for me, not saying that I dont agree with what you said.

cinnamongreyhound Wed 24-May-06 14:15:19

My father was involved but my mum was of the opinion that if you have a partner and you want them to be part of the child life then you are part of that child life. I find it highly insulting to say if we stay the course there is no question about that. Having been the major carer for his son through most of his life my dp has intention of going anywhere and wouldn't be with me if I wasn't supporting him 100%. We would fight for custody if we thought that this was what's best for dss but it is not so we try as much as his mohter will allow to have an active part in his life. In your case and I'm sure many others the mother has a difficult time with little support but not knowing me, my dp or his ex you really cannot comment on that. I realise that I will never have decision making abilities and this is very difficult to deal with I must admit. I also agree that it must be hard for a mother to see her children with another woman. In our household we have a family I have a very good relationship with dss despite his mother attempting to poison him against me (understandable I suppose but hardly best for the child). We spend a lot of our time zigzagging around her but he left her not his child and he has every right to have an equal part in his life.

Caligula Wed 24-May-06 15:28:06

Well I agree with your mother about that, but the fact is that where you are actually the cause of the break up, it is totally different rules - it just has to be, human nature hasn't changed re betrayal in thousands of years and it has to be handled with extra thick kid gloves (which I'm sure you are trying to do btw, you wouldn't be on mumsnet asking for advice otherwise). And sorry to have offended you, but um, your dp's ex probably thought there was no question of them staying the course either, otherwise she wouldn't have had a child with him - so she's perfectly entitled to wonder if you are actually going to be a permanent part of your DSS's life and therefore reserve judgement on that until you've been around for a few years. Also, it's not just "hard" having your child in the care of another woman - it's a totally different scale of feeling, having them in the care of the woman who was instrumental in the breakdown of your marriage. Again, sorry if that upsets you, but I honestly cannot imagine how I would feel in that situation. I keep coming back to murderous, how very Gothic of me, glad I've never been in that situation, I might be in prison now.

Honestly, I do find the comment about fighting for custody absolutley gobsmacking. When you get round to having a child, just imagine how you will feel if some woman comes along and takes takes your husband away from you, and then says she would take your child too. I bet even the thought of it would make you feel as Gothic as me.

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